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“Liberty, Equality and Fraternity”. This is the motto of France, one of the main European pillars. Find out all that you need to know about the country if you are planning to settle there.

Located in the west end of Europe, France is a democratic Republic with some 65,821,000 inhabitants in January 2014. Stretching over 632,834 km², including 551,695 km² in the metropolis, it is surrounded by Italy, Spain, Andorra, Germany and Switzerland. Beyond its European borders, the country also includes French departments, overseas territories and regions:

Overseas Departments and regions

  • Guadeloupe
  • Martinique
  • Guyana
  • Reunion Island
  • Mayotte

Overseas Communities

  • Saint Pierre and Miquelon
  • Saint Barthelemy
  • Saint-Martin
  • Wallis and Futuna
  • French Polynesia

New Caledonia, for its part, is a former Overseas Territory which now has a special status.

France is nicknamed the “Hexagon” thanks to its six sides. Paris, also known as the “City of Lights”, is its capital city while Bordeaux, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nice, Nantes, Strasbourg, Toulon and Toulouse are its major metropolis. These are especially very popular worldwide.

Before the introduction of the Euro, France used to deal in French francs. Nowadays, some people still speak in francs with nostalgia.

 Good to know:

Since the French Revolution era, the country is guided by national motto “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity”.

Regions

To date and till the 1st of January 2016, France is divided into 27 regions and 101 departments. In fact, as from that date, the country will comprise 18 regions as follows:

Metropolitan regions

Overseas regions

Alsace-Champagne-Ardenne-Lorraine (Strasbourg) –

Fusion of 3 regions

Guadeloupe (Basse-Terre) – Unchanged

Aquitaine-Limousin-Poitou-Charentes (Bordeaux) –

Fusion of 3 regions

Martinique (Fort-de-France) – Unchanged

Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (Lyon) – Fusion of 2 regions

Guyane (Cayenne) – Unchanged

Bourgogne-Franche-Comté (Dijon) – Fusion of 2 regions

Reunion Island (Saint-Denis) – Unchanged

Bretagne (Rennes) – Unchanged

Mayotte (Mamoudzou) – Unchanged

Centre-Val de Loire (Orléans) – Renamed in 2015

 

Corse (Ajaccio) – Unchanged

 

Île-de-France (Paris) – Unchanged

 

Languedoc-Roussillon-Midi-Pyrénées (Toulouse) – Fusion of 2 regions

 

Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie (Lille) – Fusion of 2 regions

 

Normandie (Rouen) – Fusion of 2 regions

 

Pays de la Loire (Nantes) – Unchanged

 

Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (Marseille) – Unchanged

 

Economy

France is deemed to be the 5th global powerhouse with a GDP of 2,121 billion euros. The national economy is mainly based on the services sector which employs not less than 70% of the active population.

Agriculture also makes a significant to the economy. Thus, France has become one of the leaders in the European Union in terms of agricultural production.

France is also the worldwide leader in terms of viticulture through the production of wine and spirits despite many other countries which have followed its steps since a few decades.

If you are looking for career prospects in France, you could try your luck in the following sectors: new technologies, research, finance and insurance, tourism and luxury, agrifood, energy, aerospace, automotive, construction, chemical industry, railway, aviation, pharmaceutics, cosmetics, etc.

Gastronomy

The French cuisine is world famous, often associated with luxury, sophistication and finesse. Each region has its own specialties. Did you know, for example, that there as as many varieties of cheese as the number of day in a year? Indeed, moving to France will be a real culinary experience. On the other hand, the country also hosts many foreign restaurants, especially due to the presence of expatriate communities. Some of these hold really addictive treasures.

History and culture

If you wish to learn more about history, you won't be disappointed. The French history dates back to the 5th Century when the French fought the Romans. That was epic! Indeed, the nation took years to build up its historical heritage. Note that the country is at its 5th Republic, born in 1958 with its new Constitution.

Over the years, France has been able to preserve its great historical and cultural legacy through its cathedrals, museums and other monuments which you can discover alone or with your family during your leisure time.

Advantages

The legal working week in France consists of 35 office hours. Overtime is paid.

Employees are entitled to five weeks local leaves per year, along with the RTT which means “Recovering Working Time” for those who have perform more than 35 hours a week. Despite all these benefits, the French remain one of the world's most productive nations.

The French are entitled to a social protection system which is essentially based on solidarity, housing benefits and other social advantages which make the whole world envious.

You can easily and rapidly travel across the country by train.

France is a highly cultural country. So you should not miss a single opportunity to learn more.

If you are moving to France with your children, they will be entitled to free education, unless you prefer to enroll them in a private or an international school. Indeed, you are likely to find many of them across the country.

 Good to know:

French people are very take their traditions very seriously: baguettes, croissants, cheese, Sunday markets, coffee on the terrace or sitting in front of zinc. It's not a cliche!

 Useful links:

Expat.com – France 
France Diplomatie www.diplomatie.gouv.fr
France Official Tourism Portal ee.france.fr

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